Heidfeld tops test time charts at Monza

Track temperatures dropped a little in Monza, Italy, on Thursday but sunshine remained and left conditions ideal for a second day of Formula One testing at the 3.5-mile Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Nick Heidfeld worked on setup for next month's ...

Track temperatures dropped a little in Monza, Italy, on Thursday but sunshine remained and left conditions ideal for a second day of Formula One testing at the 3.5-mile Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

Nick Heidfeld worked on setup for next month's Italian Grand Prix in BMW Sauber's F1.08 and set the day's fast time of 1 minute, 22.621 seconds. The German whose 2009 contract with the team is on the line clipped nearly a second and a half off his Wednesday time. He completed 89 laps without major difficulties. Tire options and aerodynamic configurations were in play.

Heidfeld teammate Robert Kubica, reported to have signed a one-year contract extension, though the team has announced it will not confirm the 2009 driver lineup until all deals are complete, takes over Friday.

The next two races, in Belgium and Italy, are set on fast circuits that use less downforce than previous races. Setting up for those races requires considerable changes to cars so teams run comprehensive tests on aerodynamic elements, brakes and tires.

All test times are unofficial. Thursday's times spread more as teams got further into planned programs. Wednesday times were bunched to within 1.1 seconds of one another; nearly 2.5 seconds covered the 12 drivers on hand Thursday for the series' 10 teams.

Nico Rosberg in the Williams FW30 was the only driver besides Heidfeld to reach 1:22s. His 1:22.879 set in 100 laps was second-quick. He supplanted Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren Mercedes whose 92 laps produced a third-quick 1:23.341 Thursday.

Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel was fourth-fastest for a second day in the STR3. He set a 1:23.424 in 47 laps. Vettel and teammate Sebastien Bourdais (1:24.311 in 44 laps) were two of four drivers sharing a car. Honda runners Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button ran the Honda RA108. They anchored the bottom of the timesheets: 1:24.695 for Barrichello in 51 laps and 1:25.058 for Button in 42.

Wednesday's fast lapper Felipe Massa was fifth-best Thursday for Ferrai. The Brazilian chasing Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes for the world driving title clocked a 1:23.445 in 86 laps in the F2008.

Fernando Alonso took over from Nelsinho Piquet for Renault, setting a 1:23.606 in the R28 in 95 laps. "It was a busy day as we tried lots of different settings on the car to try and improve the overall balance," Alonso said. "Once we were happy with the basic setup, we did some work on the brakes as this circuit is very demanding in that area. We found out some interesting things and learnt quite a lot about how the car behaves with low downforce. The track conditions were not too bad and it was quite consistent, which is always useful when you are testing."

Adrian Sutil of Force India stepped in for test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi and drove the VJM01 to a best lap of 1:23.823 among 92 he ran.

The day's hard worker was Australian Mark Webber, who drove 101 laps for Red Bull, the best of which was a 1:23.936. Webber, who has credited the RB4's reliability this season, now needs speed.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , Nick Heidfeld , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Sébastien Bourdais , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Vitantonio Liuzzi , Robert Kubica , Sebastian Vettel , Adrian Sutil
Teams Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Force India , Toro Rosso , Williams